Faculty Profile: Bill Conklin
Posted 10/09/2015 04:51PM
Bringing 43 years of teaching experience with him, William (Bill) Conklin began at Forman School this fall. “What makes teaching exciting for me is opening up students’ understanding of the world around them. It’s making the ordinary special, and the special understandable,” the former Litchfield High School teacher says.
Forman School is a place for educational flexibility and freedom, the Winsted resident says. “Teaching at Forman allows me to instruct at the learning pace of the students rather than just the pace set by a curriculum. It allows me to better understand the learning differences of my students and how to help them be successful.” Teaching to the individual student is close to Conklin’s heart: his son has learning differences and is just beginning college. “He is increasingly comfortable with his studies,” he says.
A foundational concept for Conklin is that teaching and learning are intertwined and even interchangeable. “One of my favorite learning strategies is to have students take complex concepts and create a learning story for younger children. Learning by teaching is a theme I try to use as often as possible, in pairs, teams or even a whole class. Effective teaching demonstrates mastery,” he explains.
Moreover, Conklin’s teaching style blends perfectly with Forman’s focus on experiential learning. “As I am teaching Physics at different levels, students indeed have lots of opportunities for hands-on experimentation,” he says. Discussing some of his recent projects at Forman, he adds: “Students in one class created and tested paper airplanes, gathering both qualitative and quantitative data. They also applied a Design Cycle model that allowed them to improve the performance of their craft in careful increments.” Additionally, Conklin plans to help students understand physics through learning how aircraft operate and how to build homes.
This interest in building homes comes from personal experience for Conklin. Outside of the classroom, he is an active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut, where he coordinates construction projects and even helps build some of the homes. His community service work offers him a strong sense of fulfillment: “It gives me great satisfaction to see the creation of a house for and with our partner families.”